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Trump Defiant Ahead Of Potential Indictment, Lawyer's Testimony; U.S Lawmakers Threaten TikTok Ban As App's CEO Testifies; Ukraine Says Momentum Of Bakhmut Battle Shifting In Its Favor; Garbage Piling Up, Transportation Paralyzed As Anti-Government Demonstrations Roil France; "Alarmingly High" Surge In Antisemitic Incidents Recorded In 2022. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired March 23, 2023 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, Donald Trump is defiant ahead of his potential indictment in the hush money investigation in New York and his lawyer's testimony in the classified documents probe here in Washington. Standby for new details on both of those cases.
Also tonight, members of Congress doubling down on their threat to ban the hugely popular social media app, TikTok, after grilling the company's CEO about ties to China and national security concerns.
And in Ukraine, defenders of the battered city of Bakhmut claiming momentum is shifting in their favor as Russians suffer heavy losses there and elsewhere all along the frontlines.
Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. Wolf Blitzer is on assignment. I'm Alex Marquardt, and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We begin with the historic level of legal pressure on former President Donald Trump. A New York grand jury is set to reconvene on Monday with a decision looming on whether to indict the former president for his alleged role in a hush money scheme.
And in the classified documents probe, a federal grand jury is just hours away from hearing potentially significant testimony from Trump's own lawyer.
Our correspondents are digging for new information on both cases. First, we go to Kara Scannell in New York. Kara, where does this grand jury investigation in New York stand tonight after the former president wrongly predicted that he would be arrested two days ago?
KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that was certainly a wrong prediction. And, you know, today the special grand jury was sitting but they weren't hearing any testimony related to the hush money investigation and Trump's alleged role in it. They will be back focusing on that case on Monday. And sources tell us that prosecutors are weighing, bringing in at least one more witness to testify. Another source tells us that they are also discussing whether or not to bring Michael Cohen back. Cohen has already testified twice before the grand jury. He's a key player. And on Monday, his former attorney testified at the behalf of the Trump legal team. So, prosecutors weighing whether they need a rebuttal on that.
Now, this is all coming as Trump is throwing out insults again to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, but this investigation is taking place behind the scenes and Bragg is still weighing whether to make this decision, a historic decision, to charge a former president. Alex?
MARQUARDT: And, Kara, Trump's Republican allies in Congress, they've been putting public pressure on the district attorney, but now Alvin Bragg is firing back at them. What's he saying?
SCANNELL: Yes that's right. I mean, the House Republicans from three committees have said they wanted Bragg to come in and testify. Now, Bragg's offices is pushing back, saying that this is you know federal interference in a state a state investigation, a state prosecution.
And in a letter to the House committees, Bragg's office writes that their request is an unprecedented inquiry into a pending local prosecution. The letter only came after Donald Trump created a false expectation that he would be arrested the next day and his lawyers reportedly urged you to intervene. Neither fact is a legitimate basis for Congressional inquiries.
So Bragg's office sending the message they want Congress to back off. Let them continue with their private investigation and Bragg saying that he will make an announcement either way if whether he's going to bring an indictment or closed the case without any charges. Alex?
MARQUARDT: All right, Kara, stay with us as we bring others into this conversation. Andrew McCabe, I do want to start with you. You just heard from Kara there. How do you see this apparent delay? Are we are we seeing the impact of political concerns or is this likely for legal reasons?
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Alex, I'm confident that they kind of adjustments and timing are relative to how this case is being presented in front of the grand jury. I think having the attorney, Costello, come in last week and provide testimony about Michael Cohen inexorably raised this issue of do we now need to bring Michael Cohen back into rebut some of the testimony offered by Costello.
So, there are all kinds of things that happen when you're putting a case in front of the grand jury. There are issues that pop up that you have to resolve before you put the case in the grand jury's hands to vote on an indictment, and I think the prosecutors are just doing that, closing up those issues as they go along. It's hard to say how long that will take, but we'll just have to see.
MARQUARDT: Norm Eisen, do you agree?
Do you think there's any chance that the district attorney is getting cold feet?
NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No, I don't think this is a question of cold feet, Alex. New York has extremely generous grand jury opportunities for perspective defendants to put an evidence before the grand jury. This is the not unusual ups and downs of the final throes of a grand jury, most likely, and there certainly was no indication of cold feet when Alvin Bragg wrote Congress this morning telling them to mind their own business. Those were the words of a prosecutor who is getting ready to indict.
MARQUARDT: Dana Bash, these Congressional Republicans getting involved in a case that is in New York with a local district attorney. Of all these current investigations into Donald Trump, do you think that these Republicans feel that this case, which, of course, is about hush money payments to Stormy Daniels, that this is the one for them to seize on because it's the easiest one to politicize?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: No question. It doesn't mean that Republicans, certainly those who are firmly entrenched in Trump's camp, won't try to politicize the other cases, but as you alluded to in your question, it's a lot harder when we're talking about Georgia, which is about the then-president picking up the phone and calling the secretary of state of the state of Georgia and asking to find more votes.
And then, of course, on the federal level, the other investigation going on, on multiple all fronts, but, first and foremost, the insurrection and whether he had any involvement in that, but also what we've seen at Mar-a-Lago and maybe even beyond. So, that is much, much more complicated and much more fundamental to the constitutionality and fundamental to democracy.
What's going on in New York is a lot easier for Republicans to politicize because it's a Democratic -- a Democrat who was elected as the D.A., and also a lot of people, even some Democrats, frankly, think it's small ball, especially compared to everything else that is before the former president when it comes to his legal troubles.
MARQUARDT: And, Kara, we just heard Andrew talking about what the D.A. might be trying to button up in these coming days. You've reported that Michael Cohen may be asked to give more testimony after the attorney, Robert Costello, raised concerns about Cohen's credibility. But it is Cohen really the right voice to lend credibility to himself or do prosecutors need to find someone else to corroborate the claims that he's making?
SCANNELL: Well, I think it depends on what it is that Costello said. I mean, if it's something about what Cohen told him in 2018 about -- or communications that they had, then maybe Cohen might be the one person that can counter that.
I mean, we do know from this investigation that they've brought in a number of witnesses. This was all activity that took place right before the 2016 elections. So, members of Trump's campaign have gone in, as well as members of the Trump Organization because the investigation is looking at not just the hush money payments, but the potential falsification of business records as well as how Michael Cohen was reimbursed.
So, you can see there's a finite number of people there but there's also an addition of people documents. So, it's possible they have someone that they need to come in to present additional documents in this case. We just don't know because all of the proceedings at the grand jury or secret. We only know what Costello told us, he said.
So, the prosecutors must be weighing this and seeing if there is anything they need to button up, and perhaps maybe they won't bring in Michael Cohen again, we just don't know yet.
MARQUARDT: And there have been concerns that if and when an indictment comes down that there could be violence both in New York and in Washington. I've been speaking with law enforcement officials here. Andrew, do you think that that potential for violence remains or is it dissipating with time?
MCCABE: Well, I think that the threat of potential violence is definitely there, and it's if -- you know, security professionals have to prepare for the worst. And the worst, you know, we had the perfect example of that on January 6th.
Now, are we likely to see the same sort of violence we saw in January 6th? I think the chances of that are low for a number of reasons. This thing is -- you know, whenever the arraignment takes place, which would be the flashpoint, there won't be the same sort of lead up to it that people will be able to spend that time planning and organizing traveling here or traveling to New York, that sort of thing. And I think that there is a bit of fatigue in that community as a result of the prosecutions of all those January 6th defendants.
But, nevertheless, if you are a law enforcement official in New York, you have to be planning for the worst. And I'm confident they've done that.
MARQUARDT: All right, everyone standby for me. There're lots more to discuss coming up next. We will be discussing tomorrow's testimony by Trump's lawyer who is under court order to appear before a grand jury here in Washington in the classified documents investigation.
And we are learning new details about what prosecutors plan to ask him about.
MARQUARDT: We are back with our correspondents and analysts following new developments in a criminal investigation of Donald Trump. Trump's lawyer set to testify tomorrow before a grand jury looking at the former president's handling of classified documents. Our Senior Crime and Justice Reporter Katelyn Polantz is outside of the courthouse here in Washington, D. C. So, Katelyn, how forthcoming do we expect Trump's lawyer to be tomorrow?
KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, Alex, he's got to be. This went through two levels of the federal court and both levels, the judges, there have said that Evan Corcoran, Trump's primary defense attorney who had been responding to this Mar-a-Lago classified documents investigation for quite some time, that he has to answer the questions that the Justice Department wants from him, and he has to turn over the documents that he and his client, Donald Trump, were saying should not be shared with the grand jury. They're getting that information now.
And my colleague, Sara Murray, did just learn a little bit more about what the grand jury is likely to hear about tomorrow when we expect Evan Corcoran to come into this courthouse and testify.
We know that the prosecutors want to ask him about three things, Alex. One the May subpoena the Justice Department sent over to Donald Trump and his office of the former presidency last May, saying you need to turn over all of the classified records that you have.
We also know that they're going to want to ask about the searches that were done after they got that subpoena that Evan Corcoran would have taken part in or known about the attestation that he had drafted, this document that they had sent back to the Justice Department, he and another lawyer for Trump, saying that there had been diligent searches, they were handing over any and all documents that they had found in those. Obvious, they hadn't found all of the documents that were classified on the property of Mar-a-Lago at that time, so they want to ask about that.
And then finally, Alex, Sara's reporting that they want to ask about the June phone call that the prosecutors know happened at this time between Donald Trump and Evan Corcoran the same day that the Trump Organization was subpoenaed for surveillance tapes at Mar-a-Lago. Those surveillance tapes apparently showed people moving boxes around that appeared to may have had classified documents in them.
MARQUARDT: Katelyn, stick around, terrific new reporting from you and Sara Murray. I want to keep this discussion going. Norm first to you, I just want to ask your reaction to what Katelyn just reported, these new details about what we could expect Trump Attorney Evan Corcoran to testify to tomorrow. What do you make of that?
EISEN: Alex, one word, obstruction of justice. From the may subpoena through to the search for documents, the statement to the government and then the tape with the documents being moved, we already know there's probable cause of obstruction by Donald Trump because there, that was found as a precondition of the search warrant. They are honing in on proving that the president intentionally withheld these documents and they're going to use his own lawyer and his lawyer's writings against Donald Trump. This case is moving fast, another source of great legal peril.
MARQUARDT: This case is moving faster. Andrew McCabe, your reaction.
MCCABE: Yes, it's remarkable. I mean, first of all, this hardly ever happens that the attorney client/privileges pierced so that the government can collect criminal activity committed by the person under investigation, potentially with their lawyer. So, it's just a remarkable thing. They clearly have a lot of information to begin with, because they had to present evidence to the court in order just to get the initial ruling to pierce that privilege.
So, as Norm has suggested, they probably already have enough evidence to get an indictment today if they wanted to, but getting Corcoran's testimony is going to be really key in this investigation total. So, it'll be fascinating to hear what comes of it eventually.
MARQUARDT: So, this investigation, this case appearing to be coming to ahead, Dana. As it does, what sense are you getting about the Trump camps approach and how they're feeling right now with these two simultaneous cases and potential indictments coming?
BASH: Yes. Well, we talked about the approach to New York, which definitely is different than what you're seeing and hearing on the federal level because of what our colleagues just described, the real severity and the gravity of the notion of this seemingly being so important that they would pierce, to use a great word that Andy just used, the attorney/client privilege.
In terms of how they're going react politically, which, if you're Donald Trump, the political and the legal reaction are one in the same, it's one note, and it's the note we've been hearing for five, six years, which is which hunt? And they're going to claim that this is the Biden Justice Department going after him. It's unprecedented to go after a never mind former president but after a current candidate for, and that's what they're going to claim.
Now, that is one of the main reasons why the Biden Justice Department, Merrick Garland, assigned a special counsel in order to try to make clear that that is not the case. That won't stop Donald Trump from making that political argument. And, again, for his core base, that is something that resonates.
The one thing that we don't know, really don't know, is whether or not when you look ahead on the political calendar, whether or not this time around the chaos that is just palpable around all of this will start to chip away at some of the support, at least the support that he will need in order to get what he really wants, which is the Republican nomination again.
MARQUARDT: All right. Well, thanks to you all, we have to leave it there, lots going on in both these cases in New York and Washington and lots more to come certainly tomorrow here in the nation's capital. I appreciate all of your expertise. Now, coming up TikTok under congressional scrutiny during a fiery hearing today, why lawmakers insist that the mega popular social media platform poses a national security threat and they're pushing to ban it entirely in the United States, that's coming up next.
MARQUARDT: A showdown between Congress and TikTok sparking new calls for the hugely popular app to be banned here in the United States, lawmakers grilling at CEO for hours today over the company's potentially compromising ties to China despite its vows to keep American data here on home soil.
Now, CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju, he has more on this fiery hearing today and the security concerns that it exposed.
REP. CATHY MCMORRIS RODGERS (R-WA): Your platform should be banned.
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): TikTok CEO Shou Chew getting a bipartisan berating.
REP. KAT CAMMACK (R-FL): You damn well know that you cannot protect the data and security of this committee or 150 million users of your app because it is an extension of the CCP.
SHOU CHEW, CEO, TIKTOK INC.: Can I respond, Chair?
RODGERS: No, we're going to move on.
RAJU: In a testimony that spanned hours, Chew tried to convince the House panel that the popular social media app is not exploited by the Chinese Communist Party and that its parent company, ByteDance, is a private firm with 60 percent of it owned by global investors.
U.S. user data he maintained is walled off by what TikTok calls Project Texas, something the CEO argues cannot be accessed by the Chinese government.
CHEW: Now, that's what we've been doing for the last two years, building what amounts to a firewall that seals of protected U.S. user data from unauthorized foreign access. The bottom line is this, American data stored on American soil by an American company overseen by American personnel.
RAJU: But lawmakers not buying it.
REP. FRANK PALLONE (D-NJ): I still believe that the Beijing communist government will still control and have the ability to influence what you do. And so this idea, this Project Texas, is simply not acceptable.
CHEW: I have seen no evidence that the Chinese government has access to the data. They have never asked us. We have not provided.
REP. ANNA ESHOO (D-CA): But you know what? I find that actually preposterous.
RAJU: TikTok is used by more than a billion monthly active users worldwide, including 150 million in the United States. But U.S. officials believe the Chinese government can infiltrate ByteDance since it is under its jurisdiction even though there is no public evidence that the Chinese have used it to spy on Americans.
REP. NEAL DUNN (R-FL): I ask you again, Mr. Chew, has ByteDance spied on American citizens?
CHEW: I don't think that spying is the right way to describe it.
RAJU: The Biden administration wants TikTok's Chinese owners to sell their stakes in the company, something the Chinese government opposes.
CHEW: TikTok is a subsidiary of ByteDance, which is founded by a Chinese founder.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And ByteDance is a Chinese company?
CHEW: ByteDance owns many businesses that operates in China.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it or is it not a Chinese company?
CHEW: Congressman the way we look at it, it was founded by Chinese --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, no. I am not asking you how you look at it.
RAJU: But lawmakers also attacking the content on the app, including disinformation and violent videos, even showing some that encourage suicide.
REP. GUS BILIRAKIS (R-FL): Your technology is literally leading to death.
CHEW: Congressman, I'll just like to if -- respectfully, if you don't mind, I would just like to start by saying is devastating to hear about the news of, as a father myself and this is --
BILIRAKIS: Yes. Sir, yes or no?
RAJU (on camera): Now, there is bipartisan momentum for legislation to actually ban TikTok nationwide. The speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy, told me this afternoon that, yes, he does support the idea of allowing Congress to move ahead on legislation on this issue to ban TikTok.
Now, there are various proposals that are moving through the House and the Senate and they indicated it will take some time to sort of exactly what proposals they get behind. And just moments ago, I asked Hakeem Jeffries, the Democratic leader, whether or not he supports the idea of banning TikTok. He said that they are looking for a consensus position to deal with these concerns. And on the Senate side, the majority leader over there also open to this idea, as a major push that is now growing on Capitol Hill to ban this social media platform outright.
MARQUARDT: Well, a very dramatic hearing with far reaching consequences. Manu Raju on Capitol Hill, thanks very much.
And joining me now to break this all down is CNN Senior Media Reporter Oliver Darcy, CNN Tech Reporter Brian Fung and CNN Media Analyst Sara Fischer. Thank you all for being with me, a really fascinating day.
Oliver, I want to start with you. Have you seen any evidence in the wake of this hearing that that argument by TikTok's CEO about data and China's involvement that eased any of those lawmakers concerns?
OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: No, not at all. In fact, I think this hearing did the opposite. Look, let's just assume that everything that TikTok says about U.S. data being firewalled from China is true. It doesn't really matter at this point because lawmakers don't believe anything the company is saying. I mean, it was very clear from the get-go here that no matter what Shou Zi Chew said before Congress, they don't buy it. And so that leaves TikTok in a very precarious position.
But it also -- it was really a failure from the TikTok chief to articulate the company's positions well.
I think there are a number of moments were instead of being able to explain the company's position in very clear terms, something that they obviously rehearsed for hours, he really created more confusion And so not only did he fail to convince these lawmakers that there's no Chinese influence, for instance, over TikTok, I think he also failed to convince the public on these important issues here.
MARQUARDT: And, Brian, to that point we heard Shou Chew, the CEO of TikTok, making that case that this Project Texas, as it's called, housing data here in the United States, could be an effective tool. Why do all these lawmakers universally, in a bipartisan way, just simply disagree?
BRIAN FUNG, CNN TECH REPORTER: Yes, Alex. So, I think it all boils down to distrust of the Chinese government and the role that it may play in influencing potentially ByteDance and indirectly TikTok.
Now, you know, you heard showed you say that this information would be stored in the United States governed by an American company could access, would be controlled by that American subsidiary of TikTok, but all of those changes inside TikTok don't really do anything to change the perception that ByteDance, TikTok's parent company, has very tight control over the over TikTok and has very close ties with the Chinese government. And, ultimately, that is what U.S. officials are concerned about and the possibility that China could use its national security laws, which basically require individuals and organizations under its jurisdiction to cooperate with state intelligence activities, with that term, being very loosely defined, ultimately, potentially leading to the transfer of U.S. user data to the Chinese government.
MARQUARDT: Major concern because, Sara, here in the United States, there are more than 150 million TikTok users. If TikTok were to go away and there were to be a ban, there would be a huge outcry. But what do you think the concrete ramifications would be?
SARA FISCHER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: Well, for one, it would definitely escalate tensions between the U.S. and China. Two, I think you're going to have a lot of user blowback, and this is something that lawmakers are considering the political fallout of a decision like this. But then, three, we had this whole problem of how do we do this tactically. You know, if the Biden administration were to enforce a ban because TikTok doesn't sell, it would likely go back to the courts.
Now, we saw in 2020, the courts did not uphold Donald Trump's executive order to try to ban this app. And so I think that the ramification is going to be that we are in limbo here for a long time until we figure this out, and TikTok is under the microscope from both parties on Capitol Hill until then.
MARQUARDT: And, Oliver, it's not just about data. It's also about the potential, again, potential for China to be able to influence the content that's going out to these 150 million users. That's just in the United States. So, what exactly are these critics worried about in terms of the kind of information that China could use this platform to pump out?
DARCY: Well, there's a lot of worry that China could potentially use the algorithm to influence U.S. politics. You know, a slight tweak, theoretically, could sow distrust in the U.S. We obviously saw foreign meddling on other platforms in other elections. Of course, TikTok will say, and they did say today, that there is no foreign meddling with the algorithm that they're operating independently. Again, this comes down to trust in terms of whether lawmakers trust TikTok, and it's very clear they don't. So, we'll see what happens, but they have a major problem.
MARQUARDT: Yes, really interesting questions raised today and lots more still to come. We have to leave it there. Oliver Darcy, Sara Fischer, Brian Fung, thank you all. We know you'll continue to cover it.
All right, for more on all the pressing questions around TikTok, be sure to tune in tonight. We have a special at CNN Primetime, Is Time Up for TikTok. That's at 9:00 P.M. Eastern right here on CNN.
Now, just ahead, is the battle for Bakhmut shifting in Ukraine's favor? What we're hearing from a top commander over there about a possible Ukrainian counteroffensive, coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
MARQUARDT: In Ukraine tonight, the momentum in the battle for the eastern city of Bakhmut may be shifting. A top Ukrainian commander is saying that the Russians attacking that city are, quote, running out of energy and that a counteroffensive, a Ukrainian counteroffensive, could come very soon.
Our Senior International Correspondent David McKenzie joins us live now from Ukraine. David, a note of optimism today from Ukraine's military after what has been months of very hard fight for Bakhmut.
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Alex. And this land commander saying that the fight around Bakhmut is bearing some results. They say that those relentless attacks by the Russians and by the Wagner mercenary groups have been taking a toll on them. He says he expects that there could be enough maneuvering a room for a counteroffensive soon. That's something that everyone here has been talking about. There is also harsh fighting to the south of that front. Another town looks to be possibly encircled. That's one commander, too early to tell, though. Alex?
MARQUARDT: And, David, President Zelenskyy again sounding the alarm about the urgency for more weapons quickly. What's he saying?
MCKENZIE: Well, he says that the European Union and the commission there needs to not give inadequate supply. We've heard this from Zelenskyy time and time again. He wants more advanced weapons. He wants longer range missile capabilities, and even he wants to have more modern attack aircraft, including F-16s. He is again asking for those. In the light of the fact that there might be this counteroffensive soon, this is important for Zelenskyy to keep pushing.
Just tonight, we had two attempted strikes here in Odessa by incoming missiles, both fortunately taken out by air defense systems. But it shows that the military, the civilians in this country under constant barrage, and I think that's why Zelenskyy continues to push to pressurize allies in the west including the E.U. and the U.S. for more weapons and more weapons soon.
MARQUARDT: All right, CNN's David McKenzie in Odessa, Ukraine, tonight, thanks to you and your team for all of your terrific reporting.
I want to bring in our CNN Military Analyst, retired General Wesley Clark. We're also joined by the executive director of the McCain Institute, Evelyn Farkas. Thank you both for joining me this evening.
General Clark, to you first. Is Ukraine in a position now to push the Russians back from Bakhmut? And considering how grinding this battle has been for months, would it be worth it if Ukraine manages to take back this city?
GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, Alex, it's really impossible for us on the outside to understand the combat potential that the Ukrainians have. I mean, they're just not releasing it. When the commander says it, you can take it at face value, but it could also be a distraction, a propaganda move, again, an information move against the Russians. So -- but if they have that potential, absolutely, it would be worthwhile. They got two choices, make that penetration at Bakhmut, use the penetration to draw Russian reserves in, set up a killing zone, or make the penetration at Bakhmut and then spread out and take the flanks, roll up the Russians in the east.
But I would flag this also, Alex, the decisive terrain, we believe, is Crimea. And so whatever happens up north, it's good. If it destroys or pins down Russian forces, that's good. But if we want to bring Putin at the negotiating table, we've got to go to Crimea.
MARQUARDT: Yes. Well, without question the Ukrainians have managed to degrade Russian forces around Bakhmut.
Evelyn. I want to ask you about what President Zelenskyy said today. He did renew his call for western jets. Ukraine has said that their pilots can be retrained on modern jets, switching from Soviet jets, in less than six months. How much do these new MiG-29s that are being given to Ukraine? How much does that crack open the door to the possibility of western, more modern jets, to soon follow.
EVELYN FARKAS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, MCCAIN INSTITUTE: I mean, I think, Alex look, these jets are important in and of themselves because the Ukrainians don't have a lot of aircraft and they've been using, wearing down this aircraft, wearing down the pilots and the aircraft for a year now. So, any new old aircraft they get is also something.
But, clearly, if they can get the modern, more capable F-16s into the battlefield, you know, even a few of those would go a long way, and they actually could do it faster than most people think. Because it's not as if they're going to have to go and get them off the assembly line, a lot of countries have F-16 that they can transfer to the Ukrainians.
The Ukrainians have been training with them. I'm told from military sources that they actually are quite adept at the training and they're learning faster than we expected that. That shouldn't surprise us because we've heard this over and over again. You know, when you're fighting a war, you're pretty motivated. And you learn faster than troops, you know, or pilots during peacetime.
So, I think that it is significant because it does break a taboo, if you will, and then we can provide better aircraft moving forward.
MARQUARDT: Yes, we are hearing that a lot, that the Ukrainians are quick study.
General Clark, bigger picture, there is a bigger counteroffensive expected in the coming weeks. We don't know where it's going to be. And this as the weather gets warmer. It's very muddy right now. In terms of the trained troops and the equipment that these troops need for this offensive that we're told will be critical, what more do you think needs to be done?
CLARK: So, they do -- they are getting tanks now. They are getting trained troops back. They do have armored fighting vehicles. I'm sure the Bradleys are either in there or about to be in there, the ones that we've given. So, this is good. But as President Zelenskyy said, what he really needs is long range fires. Because what you want to be able to do is attack the enemy deep when you're moving against the enemy's front so that you can't reposition reserve, so you can take out command centers, so you can take out supply points and attack chokepoints.
And so HIMARS is good but it's limited. The glide bombs that we can throw in there, they're good but they're not much more like HIMARS. So, we really need those ATACMS in there.
MARQUARDT: Yes, some critical days and weeks ahead. General Wesley Clark, Evelyn Farkas, thank you both very much.
Now, every day, Ukrainians are dying to defend their country, and so are foreigners who have gone to Ukraine to help in that fight against Russia. I do want to take a moment to remember one of them. Kane Te Tai, a New Zealander, was killed recently. And I met him on the frontlines in Eastern Ukraine just last month. He went by the nickname Turtle.
He had been fighting for most of this war in Ukraine.
It was clear to me that he was deeply committed to Ukraine, to its people, to that fight, and fully aware that he could be killed.
Now, Kane told me, quote, for some of us. There's no better way for us to go than to be here next to our friends, doing what we're supposed to be doing my team.
My team and I send our deepest condolences to Kane Te Tai's family and to his brothers in arms in Ukraine.
Coming up, we'll go live to Paris as France reels from 1/9 day of extremely disruptive, sometimes violent protests.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
MARQUARDT: Right now, France is reeling from a ninth day of anti- government protests across much of the country. Garbage is piling up. Public transportation is paralyzed, and protesters are taking to the streets.
We find our senior international correspondent Sam Kiley in Paris for us tonight.
Sam, tensions boiling over, lots of anger. What are you seeing?
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alex, we had earlier on in the day widespread strikes across the nation, with severe effects on public transport, 20 percent of teachers on strike public workers of all kinds and also the private sector.
Now, according to the interior ministry, 1,089,000 people took to the streets in marches around the country. And then as those marches near their end, and the sun began to set, particularly in Paris, but also in Bordeaux, they have an elsewhere in the country violence once again reared its head.
These have been in the past six days or so spontaneous demonstrations, some of which have got violent, but this has been organized by the unions, who would desperate, they had said they told CNN the day before that they were desperate to avoid violence. But that was not to be the case, particularly here in Paris, and more than 70 people arrested in the -- in here in the French capital, Alex.
A lot of burning of the garbage that has been choking the streets 10,000 tons of probably more now built up on the streets, and that's because, of course, the garbage collectors, most of them in Paris, are on strike. And, of course, you've seen a lot of these manifestations they call them, crowds gathering around the country since the middle of January when Emmanuel Macron began this campaign to try to force with -- to try to get his country to adopt a new pension scheme. That would mean that the pensionable rage age was raised from 62 to 64.
Now, that was forced through the national assembly last Thursday, using a presidential prerogative rather than allow it to go to a vote of people in the French parliament. A lot of that is behind the anger that we've seen on the streets, Alex.
MARQUARDT: So much of that anger directed right at President Emmanuel Macron.
Sam Kiley in the French capital, thanks very much.
Now, a note to our viewers -- stay with CNN after THE SITUATION ROOM for "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT". Tonight, Erin will be looking into the into TikTok and what the app has to do with the Wagner group, that private Russian military company fighting in Ukraine.
Just ahead, why anti-Semitic attacks are reaching record levels here in the United States. We'll be digging deeper into a disturbing new report. That's next.
ARQUARDT: New tonight, there's a disturbing new report that anti- Semitic incidents in the United States hit a record high last year.
Brian Todd is working the story.
Brian, the Anti-Defamation League now saying it has documented in alarming surge in attacks against Jewish Americans.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Alex, the head of the ADL calls this the virus of anti-Semitism, and he says it's the worst it's been in at least four decades.
TODD (voice-over): Last October, a former student at the University of Arizona kills a professor who he believed to be Jewish, according to authorities. February of this year, a man is charged with two hate crimes in Los Angeles after he allegedly shot two people at two separate synagogues, incidents that were part of a horrific spike of acts of physical assault, vandalism and harassment against Jews in the U.S. over the past year.
That's according to a new report from the Anti-Defamation League, which says a record number of anti-Semitic incidents were ported last year, nearly 3,700.
JONATHAN GREENBLATT, CEO AND NATIONAL DIRECTOR, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: It tells us something sick about our broader society. This was the highest year the ADL has ever seen it almost 45 years of collecting this data.
TODD: This month, Stanford University police launched a hate crime investigation after a drawing containing swastikas and an image resembling Adolf Hitler was found on a Jewish students dorm room door. The ADL report says, last year, there was an increase of over 40 percent of anti-Semitic incidents at colleges and universities and a jump of almost 50 percent at K through 12 schools.
GREENBLATT: Kids repeat on the playground what they hear from their parents, and we know parents will repeat what they hear from people like presidents or members of Congress.
TODD: Or pop culture figures, people as famous as Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, who last year tweeted that he was, quote, going death con 3 on Jewish people, a message picked up by others who showed signs of support for Ye on banners and on messages projected on the sides of buildings.
GEORGE SELIM, FORMER DHS DIRECTOR FOR COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS: When someone who has the size of a social media following that are popular culture or an artist like -- like the artist formerly known as Kanye West has, I mean, there was broad reach there, and we've seen the reverberation effect play out time and time again.
TODD: And experts who monitor these trends say there's a tie in between anti-Semitism and other forms of extremism.
JONATHAN LEWIS, PROGRAM ON EXTREMISM, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: When you look at conspiracies around COVID 19, around election fraud when you really peel back that curtain, what you see is under these layers you have the core of these conspiracies is anti-Semitic, right? Alleging there is some shadowy cabal that there is this deep state.
TODD: And what keeps experts up at night is the idea that anyone can pick up on an anti-Semitic trope and act on it.
LEWIS: All it takes is one individual with easy access to a firearm, and a target, and that's really pointing to a likelihood that there will be increased threat of attacks like this going forward.
LEWIS (on camera): What has to be done to reverse this trend, experts on extremism and officials at the ADL say more people with influence from the White House and Congress to school principals to pop culture artists and influencers, all of them have to speak out more against anti-Semitism. But they also say it's got to get more personal with conversations inside American households -- Alex.
MARQUARDT: Very disturbing moment and trend. Brian Todd, thank you very much for that report.
And thank you all very much for watching. I'm Alex Marquardt here in THE SITUATION ROOM. We do want to send our best wishes to all those celebrating Ramadan. Ramadan Mubarak to you.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.